Tuesday, February 18, 2014

When Cultures Collide

Grocers in Seville Eating Lunch
Some of my family recently returned from a week in Spain--well actually it was Barcelona, which it seems if you ask the residents in not really Spain but Catalonia

As they were telling the tales of their travel, including a sobering view of the Spanish Civil War, not well taught in U.S. schools, one of the customs they noted was the long afternoon siesta time and the late dinners (except on Mondays). It sounds like the perfect place to live. I love afternoon naps and we usually do not eat dinner until later--sometimes after 8PM.

Now for the weird part. This morning's New York Times has an article about how business forces in Europe are causing the Spanish to reevaluate their fundamental approach to life--the afternoon nap and dinners that begin while much of the rest of Europe is thinking about going to bed. 

Interestingly, as I read the article, there is a great deal of resistance to the idea of change, but the truly fascinating part is that some of the changes the Spanish are resisting were instituted by the not well loved dictator Francisco Franco. I would have thought that the people would have been anxious to reverse anything that Franco implemented during his almost four decades of iron-fisted dictatorship. 

On the other hand, I also feel bad, because I am sure that it is the American global business model of 9 to 5 workdays which is colliding with the slower Spanish lifestyle. We continue to force this model onto the world and local lifestyle and traditions are lost in the quest for finance and productivity.

I also find it interesting, just a short week ago I would not have read the article in the Times, nor would I have had any background in the culture, but now after hearing stories of the region from first-hand travelers, I have both an interest and a perspective.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

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